Friendly Fire

   

      "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of a friend."  Proverbs 27:17......"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."  Proverbs 27:6....."According to Scripture, a friend is one who challenges you to become all that God intends."  Henry Blackaby
      I saw a great cartoon on Facebook recently.  Two men are sitting at two different booths.  The first booth has a sign above it reading, "Uncomfortable Truths."  There is no one at this booth, and the man sits alone.  The second booth has a sign above it reading, "Comforting Lies."  There is a long line waiting to hear what the man sitting at this booth has to say.  It is a simple but very real picture of what our fallen human nature is like.  We will embrace lies that comfort but will ultimately destroy us, and reject truth that may hurt us but ultimately save and heal us.  We in the church have no problem saying that this is so of those who reject the claims of Christ, but we care little to admit to the truth that the same attitude can be found everywhere in the professing church.  We love to say that Christ is the truth that sets us free, but we like to reserve the right to decide just what truth it will be that we hear and receive.
     I think we fail to understand and discern the difference between human sympathy and true Christlike empathy and compassion.  So much of the sympathy we extend to others, especially in the church, only serves to help them remain in a state of some kind of bondage.  Emotional, physical, or spiritual, and oftentimes all three at once.  I don't mean to belittle the pain and heartache of someone else, but the truth of the matter is that our flesh loves sympathy, and the more we can get, the more likely are we to stay as we are.  Jesus meets us where we are in our pain, suffering, and loss, but this is not where He will leave us. Always, not some or most of the time, but always, He seeks to bring healing and wholeness.  In doing so, He can speak to us in ways and words that are seemingly very lacking in compassion and understanding.  We can come up with a very long list of why we are not well, and all He may reply is, "Do you want to get well?"  If we answer yes, but there is something lingering in us that causes us to stay in a comfort zone of misery (and misery can become very comfortable) than He won't hesitate to point that out. Here's a twist.  Oftentimes He will do so through the words of a friend.  A question for each of us is, do we have such "friends" in our lives? Do we even want one?  Or do we prefer to surround ourselves with those comforters who, well meaning though they may be, help us to stay in the place that He means to bring us out of? All the while developing ever deeper destructive attitudes and behaviors.  Some have called the church a spiritual hospital, but a hospital is meant to bring people to health and wholeness. Too many of our fellowships only enable their "patients" to stay as crippled and lame as when they first arrived.
      It was said of G.B. Williamson, a great man of God who was a leader in the group of which I fellowship with, that he was a man who spoke with a "holy bluntness."  Surely there were times he offended his listeners.  Times that he wounded their flesh.  Yet, for those who really heard the voice of the Holy Spirit through him, there could only have been healing and wholeness in those words as they were heard.  We need more, many more, such voices today.  Speaking the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, in love.  No one will line up to hear it, but the Father will honor it, and those with ears to hear, will hear.  In the Old Testament, it was said of the Father that "He wounds that He might heal."  He still does.  Can He do so today through your voice and mine.  Even more, can He do so through a friends voice to you and me?  Or will we just look for more sympathy?

Blessings,
Pastor O 
 

 

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